What To Look For When You Watch The Oscars
If the 84th Annual Academy Awards show is anything like its predecessors (and on nearly all fronts, it will be), then there's quite a bit of fluff to be decidedly unenthused about. Most of the contests are, predictably, predictable — thanks to the SAGs, the Globes and various other indicators. Host Billy Crystal, due to the scandalous departure earlier this year of would-be-producer/host duo Brett Ratner and Eddie Murphy, is taking the reins for the ninth time almost ostensibly because industry suits — and bored-to-death audiences — know what to expect from him. (Guess we can't complain, given our failed attempt to adore last year's co-hosts, Anne Hathaway and James Franco.)
But while no right-minded soul will be looking forward to the endless acceptance speeches and vapid co-presenter banter, there may still be some sparkling jewels to mine from Sunday's less-than-promising telecast. Crystal, for one, could be our unlikely saviour, resurrected with something to prove after plenty of time to gather new material. And we ought not to forget the perennial viewer draw-ins, such as the haute couture red carpet looks and dozens of live mikes in front of nervous faces. This year's telecast, in particular, is also serving up at least five must-see moments:
1. Cirque du Soleil performing. Everyone's favorite high-flying troupe will pay tribute to le cinema with a three-minute act featuring more than 50 artists. Hopefully they're having a better time rehearsing than they did in 2001, when the Kodak Theater nearly went up in flames.
2. The Muppets will present. No one is happy with the news that the Muppets are not — NOT! — scheduled to perform their Oscar-nominated song, "Man or Muppet," but at least they'll be showing up, right? As if Miss Piggy would dare skip out on a chance to stuff her beloved Kermie into a tux and drag him arm-in-arm to Hollywood's biggest night.
3. The Best Actress race is a nail-biter. After 29 years of neglect, will Meryl Streep finally take home her third trophy for portraying Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady? Or will it go to her friend and Doubt co-star Viola Davis, the crown jewel of The Help's ensemble? Davis won the Critic's Choice Award and the SAG, while Streep won the Golden Globe and the BAFTA. With things coming so close, is it possible that a third nominee — Michelle Williams, perhaps? — will squeak by in a surprising upset? At this point, anything's possible.
4. A Whitney Houston tribute. This year's Grammy Awards barely had a full day to throw together a tribute to the singer, who was found dead in her hotel room the Saturday before Music's Biggest Night. Expect the Academy Awards to honor Houston's contribution to film, which includes a scene in The Bodyguard in which her character Rachel Marron is nearly gunned down by a hit man while accepting an Oscar. Weird, huh?
5. The Bridesmaids cast returns. Who can forget their "Scorsese" drinking game stunt at the SAG Awards? With a wide-open stage and all the world watching, these queens of comedy are planning something we'll all be talking about Monday.
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